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Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastic

Celebrate Earth Day

As we gear up to celebrate the 54th Earth Day on April 22, the annual event of the earth day network theme resonates louder than ever: “Planet vs. Plastic.” It’s a battle that demands attention, action, and a collective effort to combat the proliferation of plastic that threatens the health and safety of our planet. Not just for our next generation but to help planet earth with its reduction in the production of certain materials and to act and preserve more ways to build a plastic free world.

Plastic pollution has reached alarming levels, with staggering statistics painting a grim picture of the nature of our current situation. Over the past six decades, humanity has churned out around eight billion tons of plastic, with a shocking 90.5% ending up unrecycled. These numbers are not just statistics; they represent a looming environmental catastrophe that demands immediate action.

Let’s put this into perspective:

  • In 1950, global plastic production stood at a mere two million tons. Today, we produce over 450 million tons annually.
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years, with production expected to double by 2050.
  • Shockingly, more than one million plastic water bottles are sold every minute, contributing to the relentless flow of plastic waste into our ecosystems.
  • Every year, approximately 11 million tons of plastic waste finds its way into our oceans, posing a grave threat to marine life and ecosystems.
  • Despite efforts, only 9% of plastics ever produced have been recycled, leaving the majority to languish in landfills or pollute our environment for centuries.

The impact of Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution has infiltrated every corner of our planet, from the depths of our oceans to the food we consume daily. Microplastics, tiny particles of plastic that never degrade, have permeated our food chain, with millions of humans ingesting a credit card’s worth of plastic every week. The long-term health impacts of this phenomenon remain largely unknown, but the implications are concerning.

In the face of this monumental challenge, businesses must play a pivotal role in driving change. Optimising supply chains for sustainability, conducting Life Cycle Assessments on products, and designing with end-of-life considerations are essential steps toward a plastic-free world. Enforcing compliance across the entire product lifecycle is crucial, ensuring that sustainability isn’t just a buzzword but a tangible commitment ingrained in every aspect of operations.

PLASTIC RACING CAR
A replica of a race car created by Lazerian made using single use plastic that would otherwise be put in landfills. As part of a project from Envision Racing

Lazerian have taken innovative approaches to raise awareness about environmental challenges and plastic pollution through art. Here are examples of two impactful projects:

  1. Plastic E-Waste Race Car: Lazerian, in collaboration with Envision Virgin Racing and Kids Against Plastic, has created a remarkable 1:1 replica of a Formula E racing car made entirely from plastic litter. This striking installation was showcased at Cop26, serving as a powerful reminder of the detrimental impact of single-use plastics on our environment. Crafted from 100kg of plastic litter collected by Kids Against Plastic and school litter picks, the replica took more than 700 hours to create. It stands as a testament to the urgent need for plastic reduction in the race against climate change, highlighting the role of creativity and collaboration in driving environmental advocacy.
  2. Theresa May Sculpture: In a bold and thought-provoking artistic statement, Lazerian unveiled a 20-foot sculpture of British Prime Minister Theresa May emerging from the sea, fractured and spilling plastic waste onto the shore as part of a modern environmental movement. This temporary installation, created by artist Liam Hopkins, serves as a poignant critique of governmental environmental policies, particularly the UK’s ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’. Constructed predominantly from recycled materials using 3D modelling technology and traditional hand-working methods, the sculpture symbolizes the urgent need for decisive action to combat plastic pollution. By washing the Prime Minister onto a beach, Lazerian seeks to draw attention to the pressing environmental issues facing our planet and spur meaningful change and a better future at both governmental and individual levels.

As we commemorate Earth Day 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to the planet and pledge to wage war against plastic pollution. The time for half-measures and greenwashing is over. It’s time for bold, decisive action to safeguard our planet for future generations. Together, we can tip the scales in favor of the planet and defeat the scourge of plastic pollution.

Earth Day Activities and Actions: Making a Difference

Earth Day is not just a day of reflection; it’s a call to action, a reminder that each of us has a role to play in protecting our planet. From grassroots resources and initiatives to global campaigns, here are some ways individuals and communities can make a difference this earth day:

1. Community Clean-up Events: Joining or organizing a community clean-up event is a tangible way to combat the effects plastics pose and beautify local environments. Whether it’s a beach, park, or neighborhood, coming together to remove litter and debris not only improves aesthetics but also prevents harm to wildlife and ecosystems.

2. Tree Planting Initiatives: Trees are nature and earth’s guardians, absorbing carbon dioxide and providing vital oxygen. Participating in tree planting initiatives helps combat climate change and enhances plant biodiversity. From urban reforestation projects to rural afforestation efforts, planting trees is a powerful way to contribute to Earth’s health.

 

3. Plastic Reduction Campaigns: Raising awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic pollution and advocating for plastic reduction measures is essential. Whether through social media campaigns, educational workshops, or lobbying for policy changes, and more resources, individuals and organisations can drive meaningful change by promoting sustainable alternatives to plastic bags and encouraging responsible consumption habits.

4. Sustainable Lifestyle Choices: Making conscious choices in our daily lives can significantly reduce our environmental footprint. From reducing single-use consumption to opting for eco-friendly products and packaging, adopting sustainable lifestyle practices and resources can have a huge cumulative impact on the planet’s health.

5. Advocacy and Education: Educating ourselves, students and others about environmental issues and advocating for policy changes are critical components of Earth Day activism. By staying informed, engaging in discussions, and supporting environmental organisations and initiatives, students and individuals can amplify their impact and effect systemic change.

6. Supporting Renewable Energy: Transitioning to renewable energy sources such innovative technologies such as solar and wind power is essential for mitigating climate change and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Supporting renewable energy initiatives and advocating for clean energy policies at local, national, and international levels can accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future.

 

7. Sustainable Transportation Choices:

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation is key to combating climate change. Opting for walking, cycling, carpooling, or using public transportation whenever possible can help reduce carbon emissions and alleviate pressure on the environment.

8. Engaging in Citizen Science Projects:

Participating in citizen science projects allows individuals to gather and contribute valuable data to scientific research and conservation efforts. From monitoring wildlife populations to tracking pollution levels, citizen science empowers people to actively contribute to environmental stewardship.

9. Supporting Environmental Organisations:

Supporting environmental organisations financially or through volunteer work enables them to continue their vital nature conservation and advocacy work. Whether through donations, volunteering, or spreading awareness, individuals can make a tangible difference in protecting the our planet earth’s biodiversity and ecosystems.

10. Holding Corporations Accountable:

Advocating for corporate responsibility and holding corporations accountable for their environmental impact is crucial. By supporting companies with transparent sustainability practices and demanding accountability from those that prioritize profit over planet, consumers can drive positive change and create a in corporate behavior.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2024 and the earth day actions for our beautiful planet, let us remember that the actions we take today shape the world we leave for future generations. By coming together and taking meaningful steps to protect our planet, we can build a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

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